Homeowners enjoy all sorts of activities in their yards, particularly during the summer—one of the few times of year when Pennsylvania lawns aren't covered in snow. If you own a home, it's your responsibility to keep your property safe for visitors. People who fail to keep their property safe could be liable for visitors' injuries based on what's called "Homeowner Liability."
A dangerous yard isn't going to look like the dark and ominous setting from a horror film. Even the most well-landscaped, picturesque outdoor spaces can have plenty of hidden hazards. Here are five potential dangers to take care of.
Many people know that pools can be risky, but the most dangerous aspect of any pool may not be the pool itself. It could be the barrier around the pool, or lack thereof, that's the real hazard.
Building codes vary depending on the municipality, but generally, a residential, outdoor swimming pool, including an inground, aboveground, or onground pool, hot tub, or spa, should be provided with a barrier (usually a fence), which must be at least 48 inches tall. There can also be other regulations regarding the type of latches on the fence and cover on the pool. The purpose of these rules is to prevent children from being able to gain entry to a pool without permission from the homeowner, and subsequently becoming injured.
Check your local municipality's building codes to ensure that your pool is safe and up to code—and, don't forget about these helpful Swimming Pool Safety Tips.
Sometimes, homeowners construct makeshift stairways to help visitors navigate their yards a bit better. These creations can be as simple as a few stones serving as stairs, but stairways like this can be extremely dangerous because they aren't usually constructed according to building codes. They can be too steep, improperly lit, cracked and crumbling, lacking a railing, or structurally unsound. All of these factors increase the risk that someone will be injured on them.
Even if outdoor stairways are professionally built to code, injuries can still happen because they are subject to the elements. In the summer, heavy rains can make staircases very slick. In winter, ice-covered stairs can make climbing them nearly impossible. Always have a professional build stairways to code. Cover outdoor stairways in a heavy-duty mat to give visitors more traction when using them in inclement weather.
Summer is a popular time for home improvement projects. If yard work or a construction project has led to a large hole in your lawn, beware. Many injuries are caused by visitors falling into improperly marked lawn hazards that aren't roped off. Always clearly mark and rope off temporary holes in your yard, and don't take your time filling them back in. Fill in holes as soon as possible, or you could be held responsible for anyone who gets injured.
Ladders and other equipment that aren't put away after home improvement projects also cause injuries. After using a ladder, put it away immediately, and be sure to store it on its' side in a shed or garage.
Similar to stairs, outdoor walkways are always subject to the elements. Also, the walkways in a yard are usually the most highly-trafficked areas and tend to be the spot where a large percentage of injuries happen. If a homeowner fails to maintain their walkways, visitors to the home may be involved in a slip and fall accident. Hazardous walkways can be cracked or crumbling, poorly lit, have uneven pavement, or be covered in slippery moss. Then, if you add rain, snow, or ice to the mix, a sidewalk turns into a treacherous path.
Maintain the walkways in your yard—clear moss from paths and repair cracks or uneven surfaces in pavement. In the winter, take care of snow and ice. Failing to remove snow and ice from driveways and sidewalks (depending on the regulations where you live) can cost you.
Trampolines provide hours of entertainment, but unfortunately, they also can cause serious injuries to adults and children. From 2002 to 2011, backyard trampolines caused more than 1 million visits to the ER. Having a trampoline could also potentially attract uninvited visitors to come to your yard and jump on the trampoline. If it is improperly maintained and unsafe, you could be held responsible for anyone who gets injured on it—this even includes uninvited visitors.
Keep your trampoline as safe as possible using these Trampoline Safety Tips.